Judge Refuses To Try Labour Leaders

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Justice Afam Nwobodo of Enugu High Court, this morning, refused to hear an application for bails of Messrs Osmond Ugwu and Raphael Elobuike, leaders of Enugu Workers Forum, who were detained about three weeks ago for allegedly calling a strike in the state.

The matter is in suit E/702M/2011 Osmond Ugwu versus Commissioner of Police, Enugu State. The same applied to Elobuike Raphael vs CP Enugu State,

Justice Nwobodo stated that he took the action based on the principle of likelihood of bias which says that the judge should disqualify himself if found in a such manner.

However, Uche Duru Eke, the plaintiff’s counsel had argued that the integrity of the court would not be impugned if the judge tries the matter, urging the court to grant conditional release to the two accused labour leaders.

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After considering the persuasive submission of the leading counsel, he returned the case to the Registrar of the Enugu State High Court for re-assignment to another court. The matter was adjourned to 28 November.

Comrade Duru Eke, who led about 15 other Human Rights lawyers, expressed disappointment that the two accused persons were not brought to court, describing it as wearisome. “I‘m not satisfied because we still need to wait for his application for bail to be heard”, said he.

The Executive Director of Civil Liberties Organisation, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike,  expressed disappointment that democracy is misapplied in the country with lawlessness and repression of the people by the powers that be. He appealed to the Federal Government to intervene in the unlawful imprisonment of the two labour leaders before things go bad. “The executive seems to be manipulating the case. The case will make or mar Nigeria as the International Human Rights Groups and Amnesty International are being mobilised for the case”, he added.

— Jude Orji/Enugu